A mother has won the right to change her three-year-old twin sons’ surname, in order to protect them from their estranged father’s ‘bizarre conduct’ with his internet blog.

Judge Ross Duggan ruled that the mother should be able to change her children’s surname, as their father’s activity had potentially damaged their welfare. The twins’ father had not only posted their names and medical reports online but had taken to accusing their mother of taking drugs and having sexually transmitted diseases.

The judge deemed the ruling ‘necessary’ and ‘proportionate’[1], as he simply could not allow the children, or their friends, to come across such insults online later on.

While the case is certainly an unusual one, the legalities could be relevant to hundreds of thousands of parents who may be embroiled in litigation with an ex-partner.

Keystone Law’s Family expert Claudie Farndon commented:

“The specifics of this case are helpfully headline-grabbing and draw attention to the underlying legal position – a parent does not have the automatic right to alter the name of their child unless they have the agreement of every person with parental responsibility over the child.

If everyone agrees, then those holding parental responsibility do not need a reason to make the name change; it can be done by a simple deed poll application. The most common reason to change a child’s name is to ensure that the parent and child share the same surname. It is also increasingly common, as a consequence of more families blending together after divorce. It can feel tremendously important, particularly after a difficult separation, that everyone remaining in the household has the same name.

If you cannot obtain the agreement of the other parent, then a court must order the name change, as they have in this instance.”

[1] Martin Robinson, ‘Mother wins right to change three-year-old twin sons’ surname to protect them from estranged father’s “bizarre conduct” with online “protest blog”’ Daily Mail (5 November 2014) .

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.